Twilight of the minimum contacts test

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Authors
Borchers, Patrick J.
Issue Date
2014
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Journal Article
Journal Article
Language
eng_US
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Abstract
The minimum contacts test has set the limits on the long-arm jurisdictional reach of U.S. courts since 1945. Although the International Shoe case that ushered in the test is routinely hailed as having created a fairer and more flexible jurisdictional regime than the "implied consent" rubric that preceded it, whether this is actually so is now open to serious question. In a rash of four decisions from 2011 to 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that attempted exercises of long-arm jurisdiction were unconstitutional.|While the results in three of the four cases were utterly predictable, those opinions contain language that could proved to highly constrictive of the personal jurisdiction of U.S. courts. In the one case in which the decision was not predictable, the Court splintered badly and failed to produce a majority decision. U.S jurisdictional law now contains two notable and arguably new features. One is that the need of the plaintiff to have access to at least one reasonable forum is not part of the jurisdictional calculus. The other is that jurisdiction over corporations based on activity unrelated to the operative events of the lawsuit now appears to be limited to the corporation's principal place of business and state of incorporation, with few or any forums beyond that being available.|As a result, minimum contacts as a test of fairness rooted in the Due Process Clause is in its twilight. As a verbal formulation, minimum contacts is likely to endure. But it now produces results in jurisdictional cases that are as constricted as those of the pre-International Shoe implied consent regime. This article argues that to return the minimum contacts test to its fairness origins, courts at a minimum must take into account the plaintiff's need to have access to a reasonable forum.
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Citation
Patrick J. Borchers, The Twilight of the Minimum Contacts Test, 11 Seton Hall Cir. Rev. 1 (2014).
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1942-518X
1942-5171
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